Adams Papers

To John Adams from John Thaxter, 23 September 1780

From John Thaxter

Paris 23d Septr. 1780


The inclosed Letter has this moment been delivered by Mr. Celesia.1 I have thought it my duty to forward it to You. The letter, which Mr. Mazzei mentions to be inclosed in his, is to his Excellency the Governor of Virginia—am I to forward it to You, or to seal it and forward it to the Governor, first taking a Copy thereof? I wish to have your directions, Sir.2

Capt. Sampson3 has informed me, that Mitchel and Duncan, that went in the Cartel to England about the time we sailed from Boston, had arrived with about £15,000 sterling’s worth of Goods at Boston—that the Vessel was seized per order of the Navy Board and libelled, and that it was the general Opinion She would be condemned.4

He mentions that a Cartel had arrived at Boston from New York just before he sailed—that she had to the amount of £1500 sterling’s worth of Goods, for some Gentlemen and Ladies in Boston—that he had seized and libelled her by order of the Board of War in behalf of the State, himself and Crew.5 I cannot but wish very sincerely that these Cargoes may be condemned, and that this perversion of Cartels to the purposes of private Commerce and Emolument may be prevented.

When Capt. Sampson sailed, Bills of Exchange were to be bought at the rate of fifty two for one—one fortnight before they were at seventy five for one. Even Col: Quincy himself is puzzled to account for these curious changes in the Currency—it has mounted and fallen like the Mercury.

Hard money, he says is offered to sale—that one third of our proportion of the debt was assessed or to be assessed about the time of his sailing.

He has politely and obligingly offered to take any family Articles for You and Mr. Dana, when he returns, and desired me to mention it. He leaves Paris to day. Mr. Watson6 who is with him, as well as himself desire their Respects to You.

My Respects, if you please, to Mr. Dana and Love to the young Gentlemen.

I have the Honor to be, with the most perfect Respect, Sir, your Excellency’s most obedient and most humble Servant.

J. Thaxter Junr.

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “M. Thaxter 23. Septr.”; docketed by CFA: “1780.”

1This was Philip Mazzei’s letter of 19 Aug. (above), which introduced and was carried by Pietro Paolo Celesia.

2This was Mazzei’s letter to Thomas Jefferson of 19 Aug., which has not been located. For a brief statement of its contents, see Jefferson, Papers description begins The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen (from vol. 21), John Catanzariti (from vol. 24), and others, Princeton, 1950–. description ends , 3:557. No instructions to Thaxter regarding it have been found.

3Capt. Simeon Sampson, of the Massachusetts armed ship Mars, arrived at Paris on 19 Aug. with numerous letters for both JA and Francis Dana. For the letters directed to JA, as well as additional information provided by Sampson, see Thaxter’s letter to JA of 19 Sept. (Adams Family Correspondence description begins Adams Family Correspondence, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1963–. description ends , 3:419–421).

4For the cartel ships owned by Edmund Dunkin and Henry Mitchell, see Thomas Digges’ letter of 8 June, and note 6; and James Warren’s of 19 July (both above). The vessel referred to here was the brigantine Adventure owned by Mitchell. A legal notice in the Independent Chronicle of 3 Aug. indicated that the vessel had been libelled and that the Admiralty Court for the Middle District of Massachusetts would meet at Salem on 23 Aug. to determine whether it should be condemned as a good prize.

5This was the brigantine Trial (Independent Chronicle, 3 Aug.).

6Probably Elkanah Watson Jr.

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